DENVER – A bipartisan group of federal lawmakers Wednesday unveiled legislation that would offer access to certain medical marijuana products.
The coalition includes Colorado Sens. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, and Cory Gardner, a Republican.
The Therapeutic Hemp Medical Access Act would exempt from the Controlled Substances Act strains of hemp used to fight seizures in children and adults suffering from such conditions as epilepsy.
Gardner joined families benefiting from medical marijuana at a news conference Wednesday near the U.S. Capitol.
“This bill would provide children and adults alike with access to medicine they need to treat life-threatening conditions,” Gardner said. “Colorado has become a haven for people in need and parents desperate to pursue treatment for their children. Making this medicine available nationwide is the right thing to do, and would help families cope with these serious illnesses.”
The issue has received national attention, with miraculous stories told of the healing qualities of certain strains that are low in THC, the psychoactive ingredient in marijuana. Charlotte’s Web is one strain that has been highlighted, containing less than 0.3 percent THC. The strain was named for Charlotte Figi, a severely ill 8-year-old who found the strain made her largely seizure-free.
The last few years have seen legislatures across the nation taking action to legalize medical hemp oil, with much of the revolution kicking off in Colorado.
The Colorado Legislature this year passed a bill that would allow students who are medical marijuana patients to have access to their medication on school grounds. Another bill passed by the Legislature this year allows medical marijuana patients on probation to use their medication.
But a lack of progress on the federal level has caused several families to seek refuge in Colorado and other states where medical marijuana is legal, uprooting their lives to seek medication elsewhere. Several previous federal attempts have failed. But lawmakers are optimistic that a strong bipartisan coalition could push the bill over the finish line.
“Cannabidiol has shown it can significantly reduce the number of seizures for kids with epilepsy,” Bennet said. “No parent wants to see their child suffer. At the very least, we should ease these restrictions to ensure that families have access to the medicine that their kids need.”